Monday, August 3, 2015

Did Henry VIII Love Any or All of His Wives? Wife #5: Catherine Howard




The One with Whom He Was Infatuated:  Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard chalk drawing Windsor Castle
At age 39, Henry VIII hit his (second) mid-life crisis.
The first one was when he spun his wheels for years waiting out his first wife,and being really rotten to their kid, and boring everybody talking about his soon-to-be trophy wife.
This time Henry VIII didn't need to wait out an existing wife; the pressure of fathering a son was off (thanks to Wife #3) and he was more than ready to get going on the royal Spare.

Couple of issues worth mentioning: Henry had gotten fat.
He had digestive problems.
When he walked, he limped because his old sports injuries hurt all the time.
He couldn't see as well as he used to; plus, he was lonely. 

So, when one of his upper-echelon courtiers stepped right up with a covered silver tray (figuratively speaking, people, this wasn't like a girl popping out of a cake or anything)and lifted the cover off that tray, there sat the cousin of Anne Boleyn (!): teen-aged Catherine Howard.
Henry VIII fell ass-over-teakettle crazy in love with her almost immediately upon meeting her.

Catherine Howard's father and Anne Boleyn's mother were brother and sister; clearly, there were both charm and good looks in the Howard family genes, since both Anne Boleyn and her cousine, Catherine Howard sent Henry VIII into ecstatic, irrational, no-need-for-a-codpiece-to-fill-it-out-down-there LOVE. 
Coincidence? 
I don't think so.

Henry VIII couldn’t keep his hands off her. 
He was besotted by this young woman, fresh-faced and with the blush of her country roots upon her cheek. 
Catherine Howard may have had the blush of innocence on her cheek, but she also had a not-so-innocent history as well.

She was one of the last of her mother's eleven (11!!) children and when her father died, Catherine was sent off with a few other siblings to live with her dad's stepmom - so, Catherine's step-Granny.
Step-Granny went through the motions of providing her stepson's kiddies with clothes, food and schooling, but didn't actually pay much attention, if any, to what was going on in her own house.
The beautiful young Catherine had one full-on sex partner and one 'maybe' sex partner, all before she even hit her Sweet Sixteen birthday.

Step-Granny, when she found out, slapped Catherine around a little, but didn't pay any closer attention to the hijinks and playing Doctor going on between her step-granddaughter and a household secretary as well as a music teacher.
When Henry VIII married her, Catherine Howard forgot to tell 
Henry that her virginity ship had already sailed.

He didn't seem to notice he was her sloppy thirds; he was too busy nauseating everyone at court with his PDA's of his very young bride.
He famously called her his "rose without a thorn," and loved up on her at every opportunity.

Small hitch - even with all that hot royal love, Catherine didn't get pregnant, although she didn't do a bad job as queen.
She got along decently with the King's children Elizabeth and Edward - but Mary, the eldest of Henry's children, was not about to be besties with the girl who was shagging her dad silly - especially since Mary herself would have been kindergarten age when that girl was born.
Ew.
Can you blame Mary?

After a while, though, not even all the clothes, jewelry and really cool palaces made up for the fact that Henry had eaten his way up several sizes of clothes over the recent years, which was bad.
One of his legs (this is gross) had an ongoing, putrid infection, and had for years. 
The wound caused Henry chronic pain and it smelled, ('from three rooms away') which was also bad.
Catherine impulsively and really stupidly began sleeping around with at least two men who were NOT the King.

There were very few secrets at the royal court, especially when the Queen was rumored to be doing it in her bathroom with one of her lovers, so within two years of first plopping her sweet white ass on the throne, Catherine Howard got called out. 
When the King learned of it he wasted no time signing her death warrant.
Off to the Tower of London went Henry's fourth wife, (the second wife to have a date with the executioner. Really, Henry? REALLY?) while at the same time, he wailed and sobbed dramatically, a la his behavior at Jane Seymour’s  – because that sweet flower of youth had forced him to face an ugly, wrinkled, fat, old man truth. 

Catherine Howard's cheating threw a harsh light on the fact that Henry truly could NOT sexually satisfy a woman.
(And p.s. - fifty bucks says she faked it, Henry. Every time.) 
The sting of being cheated on (but unlike with Anne Boleyn’s sham of a trial, the charges with Katherine Howard STOOD) put Henry VIII on the same level with every other poor slob whose wife was screwing the milkman. 

Ouch.